The Way Forward for Workplace Learning in 2022

As the year comes to a close it is important to take time to reflect on our successes and challenges. We can all agree that 2021 was a year like no other; we started off with the usual optimism that goes with turning the last page on the old year and starting a new year afresh.  For many of us, 2021 has proven to be more challenging than initially expected, yet as I speak to employees and employers it would seem that most of us were able to turn at least some of our challenges into opportunities. With 2022 only around the corner there is a renewed opportunity for optimism and forward planning. The world as we knew it has changed and so too has people’s perception of what the modern workplace looks like.  Working from home either part-time or full time in a new hybrid work model has become common practice with large companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google announcing indefinite plans for hybrid working as part of their plans for the future. This is a significant change in the work culture which consequently leads to employers needing to re-think how they will train new staff or upskill existing staff. Employers are being forced to move away from the one size fits all approach to look at new approaches to employee learning and development.  We are noticing some emerging trends that I thought were worth sharing.   

Create Tailored Learning Opportunities  

Employees enjoy and benefit more from tailored learning experiences. In tailoring training content, the employer is guaranteed to get a quicker and more immediate return on their investment. Bespoke training can be further enhanced if the employee is given the opportunity to practice their newly acquired skills as soon as possible ensuring effective transfer of skills and knowledge. Research tells us that employees will learn more when the training has specific relevance to their work context.  

Cater for Diversity  

Today’s employers must cater for diversity when organising training for their staff.  By providing a range of opportunities that includes flexible training hours, online or mobile solutions, peer learning, coaching, mentoring – all of these will add value to employees and lead to a satisfied and committed workforce.  Today’s employees are not as motivated by monetary reward as was previously the case; employee satisfaction is increasingly related to company values, development opportunities, family values/time, flexibility and feedback sessions with managers.

Make Learning Accessible

The hybrid workforce is ready for a change – we are no longer sitting at our desk for the traditional 9 to 5 workday. These days employees want to enjoy the freedom of learning from home, taking a break to join a training session while working abroad or train at the weekend or in the evening. Each employee’s body clock and work/life experiences are different therefore employers should consider how they might integrate wider accessibility in their learning and development planning.

Use New Technologies

Employers are opting to use technologies to create individualised learning opportunities for their employees. The advantage here is that a significant amount of in-house training can be uploaded so that employees can create their own learning plan and pull learning modules when and where they need them. This also saves the employer time and expense.

Look for Creative Solutions – Reverse & Reciprocal Mentoring

Changing your approaches to training staff doesn’t need to cost the earth.  Reverse mentoring can be very effective in developing talent and promoting staff retention within an organisation. Digital natives are employees who are comfortable with technology, and they quickly learn new skills as the need arises.  Reverse mentoring means that these employees can be a great asset to employees who are not as agile in the use of technology. There are many benefits to reverse mentoring, and it is an excellent method of bridging generational differences in a positive way. Reciprocal mentoring became extremely popular during the 2020 lockdown caused by the pandemic – every organisation on the planet had to adapt and pivot overnight to new ways of working. Reciprocal mentoring is more of a two-way street with employees at every level being called to share their skills and knowledge, in some cases for the mere survival of their business.

Adopt an Employee Empowerment Approach

Working from home has accelerated people’s approach to learning, employees have become more open to using internal networks and social platforms as a means of connecting with colleagues.  By encouraging this social learning employers quickly expand the skills and knowledge through collaboration and shared learning opportunities. Employees should be encouraged to share new ideas using discussion boards or forums where they can directly share information and respond to questions. Employees should be encouraged to take ownership of short learning events – some employers make this a monthly task where an employee is selected to deliver a topic to their team. This is a great way to keep your remote teams in contact with each other. 

Integrate Training to Your Career Progression Discussions

It is important to create learning and development pathways in consultation with your employees to ensure that they are clear about your investment in their future. Ultimately your employees will be more likely to take on training and engage in upskilling opportunities if they believe that you are invested in their development. This is a time for employers to rethink their employee development model so that they can be prepared to meet the demands of the post-Covid workforce. Employers want to face new challenges with their best people ready and trained to respond to emerging challenges. Employees should be encouraged to view their development and the success of the business as a joint effort. Employers should aim to create a culture of continuous learning using a tiered learning system that allows for progression through a number of levels that are linked directly to roles or levels within the organisation. For many organisations, this will require a significant shift from the traditional learning mindset and infrastructure to promote workplace learning as an ongoing and organic experience for each individual employee.

What our Customers are Saying

“New Links Training have provided mentoring to us on our IT Systems Learning Management project. This has proven invaluable in setting us on the right course to a successfully implemented solution with documented processes. I found them professional to deal with at all times and extremely knowledgeable in the area, with a willingness to share that expertise in both structured (Train the Trainer) and unstructured (Brainstorming) sessions. We look forward to working closely with New Links Training as the project grows in the coming years”                                           Brian Dunphy Dawn Meats

Our Experience

We work with organisations of all sizes in the area of workplace communications, staff development, training and leadership.  We ourselves have adopted a range of new technologies to support our work and we confidently offer training that fits with the needs of the modern workplace.  We are equipped and ready to assist our clients throughout the coming year in the effective upskilling of staff from graduate/entry-level to senior leaders. Our blended learning training means that time disruptions will be minimal as we will train your employees remotely using the most up to date technologies supported by expert trainers. If you need any advice about staff training for the coming year we’d love to hear from you –

Janet Tumulty

10th December 2021